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Cerberus

Cerberus in Greek mythology, a monstrous watchdog with three (or in some accounts fifty) heads, which guarded the entrance to Hades. Cerberus could be appeased with a cake, as by Aeneas, or lulled to sleep (as by Orpheus) with lyre music; one of the twelve labours of Hercules was to bring him up from the underworld.

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Cerberus

Cerberus (sûr´bərəs), in Greek mythology, many-headed dog with a mane and a tail of snakes; offspring of Typhon and Echidna. He guarded the entrance of Hades. One of the 12 labors of Hercules was to capture him.

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Cerberus

CerberusArras, embarrass, harass •gynandrous, polyandrous •Pancras • charas • Tatras • disastrous •ferrous • leprous • ambidextrous •Carreras, mayoress •scabrous •cirrus, Pyrrhus •chivalrous •citrous, citrus •ludicrous • tenebrous •Cyrus, Epirus, papyrus, virus •fibrous • hydrous • Cyprus •retrovirus • monstrous •brachiosaurus, brontosaurus, canorous, chorus, Epidaurus, Horus, megalosaurus, pelorus, porous, sorus, stegosaurus, Taurus, thesaurus, torus, tyrannosaurus •walrus •ochrous (US ocherous) •cumbrous • wondrous • lustrous •Algeciras, Severus •desirous •Arcturus, Epicurus, Honduras •barbarous • tuberous • slumberous •Cerberus • rapturous •lecherous, treacherous •torturous • vulturous • Pandarus •slanderous • ponderous •malodorous, odorous •thunderous • murderous •carboniferous, coniferous, cruciferous, melliferous, odoriferous, pestiferous, somniferous, splendiferous, umbelliferous, vociferous •phosphorous, phosphorus •sulphurous (US sulfurous) •Anaxagoras, Pythagorasclangorous, languorous •rigorous, vigorous •dangerous • verdurous •cankerous, cantankerous, rancorous •decorous • Icarus • valorous •dolorous • idolatrous •amorous, clamorous, glamorous •timorous •humerus, humorous, numerous •murmurous • generous • sonorous •onerous • obstreperous • Hesperus •vaporous • viviparous • viperous •Bosporus, prosperous •stuporous • cancerous •Monoceros, rhinoceros •sorcerous • adventurous • Tartarus •nectarous • dexterous • traitorous •preposterous • slaughterous •boisterous, roisterous •uterus • adulterous • stertorous •cadaverous • feverous •carnivorous, herbivorous, insectivorous, omnivorous •Lazarus

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Cerberus

Cerberus

Nationality/Culture

Greek/Roman

Pronunciation

SUR-ber-uhs

Alternate Names

Kerberos

Appears In

Hesiod's Theogony, Ovid's Metamorphoses, Homer's Odyssey

Lineage

Offspring of Typhon and Echidna

Character Overview

In Greek mythology , Cerberus was the terrifying three-headed dog who guarded the entrance to the underworld . The offspring of the monsters Typhon and Echidna, Cerberus was also the brother of the serpent creature Hydra and the lion-headed beast Chimaera. He is often pictured with the tail of a snake or dragon, and with snakes sprouting from his back.

According to legend, Cerberus's appearance was so fearsome that any living person who saw him turned to stone. The saliva that fell from his mouth produced a deadly poison. Cerberus prevented spirits of the dead from leaving Hades , and living mortals from entering. Three humans, however, managed to overcome him: Orpheus charmed him with music; the Sibyl of Cumae drugged him with honeycakes to allow the Roman hero Aeneas access to the underworld; and Heracles (known as Hercules by the Romans) used his sheer strength to take Cerberus from the land of Hades to the kingdom of Mycenae and back again, the twelfth labor of Heracles.

Cerberus in Context

In ancient Greece and Rome, dogs were sometimes used to guard sacred places, such as temples. At Cumae, a city in southern Italy believed to be near the entrance of the underworld, a cave that housed a sibyl—a woman who, it was believed, could see the future—was discovered in the early twentieth century. At the site, excavators found a wall fixture with three large chains that appear to have been used for a trio of guard dogs.

Key Themes and Symbols

Cerberus is usually associated with the act of guarding or keeping out. He may also symbolize fearsomeness.

Cerberus in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

Cerberus is one of the most easily recognizable creatures from Greek mythology, and appears in many examples of ancient art. Cerberus has been included as a character in several literary works, most notably Dante's Inferno (c. 1320 ce). In modern times, Cerberus has proven especially popular in movies and video games. He appeared in the 1997 Disney animated film Hercules, and in the Harry Potter books and film series (under the name Fluffy).

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

Using your library, the Internet, or other available resources, research the history of dogs as human companions. How long ago were dogs domesticated (tamed) by humans? What functions have dogs served over the centuries? What breeds are believed to be the oldest? Then write a brief essay with your views on the relationship between humans and dogs.

SEE ALSO Greek Mythology; Hades; Heracles; Orpheus

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Cerberus

Cerberus

CERBERUS. British Frigate. Reaching Boston on 25 May 1775, this British frigate was immortalized in the pasquinade posted soon thereafter in the town:

     Behold the Cerberus the Atlantic plough,
     Her precious cargo, Burgoyne, Clinton, Howe.
     Bow, wow, wow!

The three gentlemen, it might be noted, were members of Parliament in addition to being general officers. The Cerberus was destroyed at Newport on 5 August 1778, in Suffren's attack. A year earlier it had been unsuccessfully attacked by the submarine of David Bushnell.

SEE ALSO Bushnell, David; Newport, Rhode Island (29 July-31 August 1778).

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